While most people experience a dry mouth at some point in life, chronic dry mouth (medically known as xerostomia) is actually a symptom of a larger, often more serious medical condition. Dry mouth can lead to oral health problems that may prompt the need for an Anchorage, Alaska, general dentist. It’s important to know some of the many causes of dry mouth; how dry mouth affects your mouth, gums, and oral health; and how dentists treat dry mouth.

young adult woman covering her mouth with her hand

Effects and Causes of Dry Mouth

Simply put, dry mouth occurs when there’s not enough saliva production. Saliva is a very important part of the functioning of the mouth, teeth, and gums. Saliva cleans your mouth, keeps the mouth moist, and serves to remove food from your mouth while and after eating. A lack of saliva production may lead to the following problems:

  • Pain/discomfort
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Trouble speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Cavities, tooth decay, and other dental problems
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Lip and tongue pain
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Taste disorders
  • Trouble wearing dentures
  • Increased thirst

More serious but less common symptoms of extreme dry mouth, include:

  • Skin rash
  • Dry skin
  • Joint pain
  • Dry eyes

Dry mouth is more common in older adults; one in five older adults will suffer from dry mouth in their later years. That is directly tied to one of the main causes of dry mouth: certain medications. Since older people usually take more medicine than younger people, the instances of dry mouth in older adults outnumber the instances in younger folks. Some of the medications that lead to dry mouth are:

  • Antihistamines/decongestants
  • Antidepressants
  • Opioids
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antipsychotics
  • Hypertension medication (high blood pressure)
  • Chemotherapy drugs

The list is quite long, so let’s just say millions of Americans suffer from dry mouth, likely from one of the medications they’re prescribed. Radiation treatment for cancer often leads to dry mouth, also.

If you suffer from dry mouth due to a medication, there is help for dry mouth. An Anchorage dentist will have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of dry mouth cases during their career, and being treated for dry mouth will greatly reduce the likelihood of dental problems due to dry mouth.

Other known causes of xerostomia include:

  • Mouth-breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Stroke
  • Menopause

With so many causes of dry mouth, it’s not surprising to learn that millions of Americans deal with dry mouth every day; the good news is that there is treatment for dry mouth in Anchorage, Alaska, at your general dentist’s office.

Treatment for Dry Mouth

If a medical doctor has found no specific cause for your dry mouth, it’s time to visit a general dentist in Anchorage who will know what to look for to treat your dry mouth. One very important aspect of treating dry mouth in Anchorage is to discover the source of the problem because, again, dry mouth is the result of some other medical condition. Your general dentist will work to increase your saliva production and reduce the severity of your dry mouth. You may have to work with your medical doctor and your general dentist to change prescriptions that may be causing your dry mouth.

A dry mouth may be treated with saliva substitutes or changes in brushing habits and toothpaste use. Lifestyle changes, including drinking more water and eliminating certain foods and drinks that tend to dehydrate, may be suggested. If dry mouth has already caused tooth decay or gum disease, your Anchorage general dentist will take steps to repair existing damage and go over some preventative dentistry tactics with you.

Get Help for Dry Mouth in Anchorage, Alaska

Why suffer from dry mouth in Anchorage any longer? Dr. Kendall Skinner and Dr. Michael Fox stand ready to treat dry mouth at Excellence in Dentistry, serving Anchorage, Alaska, and surrounding communities. You may call the office (907) 349-0022, or you may fill out our online contact form. One of our general dentistry team members will reach out to answer questions or schedule a new patient examination.